I've seen following claims made by pro-legalization lobby:
- SWATs are used more often for drug warrants than to deal with any violent crimes
- most of these warrants are for marijuana
- significant number of people are killed during these SWAT raids
How true are these claims?
As for reference, some of such claims are contained in this article by Gawker: "SWAT Team Raids House, Shoots Dogs over 'Small Amount of Marijuana'":
As Balko points out, there are as many as 100 of these terrifying paramilitary raids per day in the U.S., conducted under the aegis of "the war on drugs," theoretically targeting drug traffickers and other "enemies." Some of the raids turn up significant amounts of illegal substances; others turn up even less than the "small amount of marijuana" the police were able to find at Whitworth's house. Many wind up targeted innocent people. This map of "botched raids" gives some indication of the disturbing frequency not just of the operations themselves, but the mistakes, often fatal, that occur during their execution.
To address some of the doubts expressed in the comments:
- definition of violent crime (according to FBI UCR): "composed of four offenses: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Violent crimes are defined in the UCR Program as those offenses which involve force or threat of force." (source)
- as for significant number of people killed: comparison with number of people killed by criminals in home invasions would be great.
significant number of people are killed during these SWAT raids-- The map, if it's at all complete, shows forty incidents of "Death of an innocent". The earliest incident I noticed (I didn't look at them all) was in 1989. Although any/every death is significant to the deceaseds' loved ones, however IMHO 40 deaths in 30 years in the USA (population of around three hundred million) is not a "significant number of people".
And most often quantities, which have been decriminalized in most Europe, Canada and many Latin American countries-- Marijuana possession has not been decriminalized in Canada (although, admittedly, I have heard anecdotally that police won't necessarily bother to arrest you for it); nor, that I know of, in "most of Europe".